PUC committed to neighbors

2012-09-08T21:12:00Z 2012-09-12T17:14:43Z PUC committed to neighborsHeather J. Knight, Ph.D. Napa Valley Register
September 08, 2012 9:12 pm  • 

As president of Pacific Union College, I receive a wide diversity of responses when I ask our faculty, staff and students what brought them to Pacific Union College, as well as what makes them stay in this very special environment.

For some, it is the opportunity to experience a high-quality liberal arts education in a small-college setting, while for others it is tied to their personal commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, with its emphasis on health and wellness.

However, there is one response that I hear from almost everyone, every single day that I am on campus: “It’s just so beautiful up here.” In fact, PUC was just recognized in the Aug. 13 and Aug. 20 issues of Newsweek as “the most beautiful college campus in America.”

We at the college consider ourselves lucky to have called Angwin and the hills of Napa County our home for learning since 1909. We enjoy the green hills, bountiful nature, bright blue sky, and soft breezes rustling through the tall trees.

Our pristine and inspiring natural surroundings play a major role in the attraction of quality faculty and students to our college, and we are 100 percent committed to working with our neighbors to preserve the rural character of our area and the lands surrounding the college, as can be attested to by my many meetings with the Save Rural Angwin group during the past three years, as well as PUC’s consistently positive stewardship of our property over the past 100 years.

Over the past few years, Pacific Union College has seen tremendous academic growth and progress, as evidenced by the fact that US News & World Report has ranked us in the top tier of our category in the “Best Colleges” issue for 17 consecutive years. I feel privileged to be part of such a distinctive learning community — Napa Valley’s only four-year college — that is preparing our students to, indeed, change the world.

But along with our upward trajectory, Pacific Union College must make important decisions to address the needs of future generations of students.

To do this, the college has considered many options, including the potential sale of some excess property to support growing our endowment, thus providing for student scholarships and long-overdue maintenance to some of our academic facilities.

As with most major decisions in Napa County, we were expecting a robust community discussion and debate surrounding the pros and cons of the various options under discussion. What we did not expect, however, was an aggressive paid signature drive that eventually qualified a divisive countywide initiative, Measure U, for the November 2012 ballot.

Measure U is an unfortunate attempt by a few community members to ask the voters of Napa County to circumvent the normal public process in Angwin. This measure is not about the future of Napa County; rather, it is a specifically targeted attempt to take away Pacific Union College’s rights as a private property owner.

After all, while there is no large-scale development planned for Angwin, any proposed development would be subject to extensive public vetting by the community and would require Pacific Union College to seek and obtain discretionary permits from the county and other government agencies.

For more than 100 years, the students, staff and alumni of PUC have had a deep connection to the land and to the community, and we know our future is strongly tied to Napa County’s. So it concerns us that because Measure U is poorly crafted, it could have unintended consequences for Napa County beyond Angwin — including exorbitant costs and possible conflicts with existing voter-approved measures.

Especially in these difficult economic times, Napa County cannot afford to waste valuable taxpayer dollars on legal fees and administrative costs. But passage of Measure U would force Napa County to do just that.

Most importantly, an independent legal analysis commissioned by the county determined that Measure U is legally flawed and could cost the county as much as $1.3 million, plus fees, if passed.

In these difficult economic times for local government, these taxpayer dollars would be better spent on fixing roads, ensuring public safety and other vital public services — not wasted on legal fees to fight an unfair and unnecessary initiative.

Measure U is unnecessary. It does not serve our local community and it will only cost Napa County taxpayers. Measure U is opposed by the Napa Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor Bill Dodd, and  leaders from across the county.

As fellow residents of Napa County committed to the long-term health of our area, we ask you to vote “no” on Measure U and join us in working together in a positive, not divisive, manner to ensure that the rural character of Angwin and Napa County are preserved for generations to come.

Heather J. Knight is the president of Pacific Union College.

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(23) Comments

  1. shantz
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    shantz - September 08, 2012 10:05 pm
    "Measure U is an unfortunate attempt by a few community members to ask the voters of Napa County to circumvent the normal public process in Angwin. This measure is not about the future of Napa County; rather, it is a specifically targeted attempt to take away Pacific Union College’s rights as a private property owner."

    This is a blatant attempt to marginalize supporters of Measure U and tarnish a democratic process. Measure U will protect open spaces in Angwin and prevent big development. Measure U is support by a diverse range of citizens and community leaders. Measure U ensures that private interests don't stomp upon the interests of the community.

  2. SouthNapa
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    SouthNapa - September 09, 2012 12:47 am
    My first thought when I read the title of the letter was that this letter was about the Public Utilities Commission but then I realized it had to be Pacific Union College because the Public Utilities Commission couldn't care less about us.
  3. Darqua
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    Darqua - September 09, 2012 2:32 am
    Measure U is exactly as stated: poorly written and a disaster in the making as far as tax dollars go. Dr. Knight is 100% right! There are processes in place that any developer would have to go through! This is just the uninformed attempting to remove an individual's property rights. For what???? So you can enjoy the view of property you don't own? How selfish and un-American! NO ON U!
  4. Perceptive
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    Perceptive - September 09, 2012 5:56 am
    This letter is unfortunate. I expected better.

    NOTHING in U interferes with PUC’s sale of its lands.

    PUC’s best endowment is its land. Some was sold in the past, and the money spent. Had the Board’s present course been the course in earlier decades, there would be no land, no endowment, and maybe no PUC.

    There is NO cost to the County of $1.3million “plus fees” (whatever that means) in Miller Starr Regalia’s Memorandum. There IS an estimate of $400-$600k in the County Counsel’s report which Could be the cost IF suit was brought by PUC over the issues of minimum lot size in the few acres zoned Public Institutional. Why PUC would do this is beyond comprehension. There is an additional estimate of $500,000-$750,000 to defend a suit brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) which is the same offensive threat trumpeted by PUC with its Eco-village. Miller Starr Regalia says that the risk of PUC succeeding is DIMINUTIVE (Memorandum, p.29).
  5. Perceptive
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    Perceptive - September 09, 2012 5:59 am
    One would like to think that Dr. Knight’s gross and poorly-researched letter was written by others and signed by a busy college president with a lot on her plate. People who put initials behind their name should have more regard for the truth. Hollow, empty threats of big-buck litigation should be beneath a college president. This letter’s supercilious appeal to conserve taxpayer dollars is in the face of the fact that her institution contributes little tax, and the costs she complains of are costs her institution is threatening to create. If she is genuine, she can simply stop threatening suit and address the real issues in U.

    Measure U is absolutely necessary and this letter is exhibit A. The citizens of Napa County do not want subdivision development in Angwin and they do not want more years of their lives and County resources spent fighting it. Measure U is the only way to move forward.

    Dr. Knight offers no better alternative.
  6. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - September 09, 2012 8:06 am
    Here we go again! Another college president, turned developer, calls for lots of public input all the while, another speculative developer puts up a web site for the next ugly development scheme, and the survey stakes are being pounded into the ground all around the farm. Dr. Knight disingenuously states " we were expecting a robust community discussion and debate surrounding the pros and cons of the various options under discussion."

    Well, Dr. Knight may have missed the years of public hearings over the now dead Triad project. And she may have missed the 1,000 people at Lincoln Theater, or perhaps she was unaware of the packed Chardonnay Hall hearings. I am sure the out of state Board of Trustees, now stacked with developer front men and real estate speculators, dont really pay much attention. However, Dr. Knight has easy access to thousands of pages of public comment, she can review the County General Plan or the PLUMA documents too. The 'robust' public comment is over. Yes on U!
  7. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - September 09, 2012 8:08 am
    Measure will save U....all Napa residents from having to fund the Howell Mountain Highway to serve a mega development! Time to cut the developer costs now before they start! We are unable to afford one more special district!

    Ask the folks at Berryessa Highlands how that is workin out.
  8. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - September 09, 2012 8:11 am
    This comment is a blatant attempt to marginalized opponents of Measure U and tarnish a democratic process. Measure U will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Measure U is opposed by a diverse range of citizens and community leaders. Measure U circumvents a public process that is based on facts, not campaign slogans.
  9. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - September 09, 2012 8:13 am
    Read the County's 9111 report for the facts.
  10. Perceptive
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    Perceptive - September 09, 2012 9:05 am
    That would be a good place for you to start. Continue to exhibits A, B, C and most importantly D. Compare them with Dr. Knight's letter.
  11. gettingreal
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    gettingreal - September 09, 2012 11:47 am
    The main reason that PUC was recognized as the "Most Beautiful College Campus In America" is that you can look out over this beautiful green valley, not covered with ugly Eco-village town homes. Instead of tying this up in expensive litigation why doesn't the college take a vote with the congregation that created it? From looking at the maps, Save Rural Angwin did come up with a decent alternative to the proposed monstrosity. I'm so sick of these out of state developers.
  12. giraffe
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    giraffe - September 09, 2012 1:14 pm
    Oh! Dr. Knight's flowery description of the college's pristine and natural surroundings really rings false when she has said that her idea of a "grand entrance" to the college is a SHOPPING MALL built in the green fields right across from the college, the very same green fields that helped garner PUC "Most Beautiful College Campus" and which are pictured on PUC's own website as one of the "beautiful college"views. I wonder how the students sitting on the grass in the photo will enjoy sitting on a concrete molded bench in yet another urban mall indistinguishable from all the other cookie-cutter malls defacing much of California. Hard to believe that PUC would foul its own nest in this way and call it "grand"! I call it desecration.
  13. giraffe
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    giraffe - September 09, 2012 1:48 pm
    PUC President Dr. Knight is disingenuous: while she was either ducking conversation with Angwin groups or saying PUC had no plans, the developer PUC was working with was trumpeting his collaboration with the college on a project they planned to begin this year.
    A business plan presented by Adventists for the Preservation of PUC's Heritage offering an Adventist use of the land was shelved, and Dr. Knight late denied any such plan existed.
    Today most residents know little or nothing about PUC's plans, acres up for sale or subdivision.
    Dr. Knight is not calling the shots; her Board is, and they don't live around here.
    God has given PUC a wonderful place and it's the duty of the Board to preserve, not sell it off. What the college urgently needs is a Board more in agreement with Adventist values than with Mammon's
  14. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - September 09, 2012 4:55 pm
    Read it from beginning to end - suggest you do the same.
  15. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - September 09, 2012 10:16 pm
    Vote yes on Measure U to preserve the mountain range above the Valley floor. It doesn't make sense preserving only the Valley floor if the hillsides above it become dotted with housing development. Just take a look at the hillsides of Berkeley and Oakland to see what happens when developers get a foothold.

    The growth of PUC college was meant to be institutional only growth, No one ever intended for land use and zoning regulations to be hijacked by housing developers taking advantage of a struggling college. If Angwin is developed into dense housing, it's just a matter of time before other developers follow suit. This is how we ended out with dense housing in the hills above the SF Bay Area,

  16. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - September 09, 2012 11:40 pm
    Measure U, indeed is the 'normal' process when outside developers seek to simply obliterate the village of Angwin for sprawl and mall. Dr. Knight hails from Stockton, where town in a box development is 'normal.'

    We call normal in Napa County Measure J and Measure P......Make way for the new normal.......Measure U!
  17. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - September 09, 2012 11:45 pm
    Darqua: This is the process. This is how land use policy is crafted when developers seek to destroy your home. Measure U is about the watershed, the clean air, the agricultural future of the Howell Mountain community. Not sure about the view from you place but here in Angwin the star filled sky is stunning. We do not own the sky, we can not pave paradise for a developer buck.
  18. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - September 10, 2012 8:24 am
    your forgetting the history of Measure J Red Dirt Town - it went through the planning process first and was approved, and then was put to a vote of the people. It was fully vetted in a public process with facts, not campaign slogans.
  19. Perceptive
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    Perceptive - September 10, 2012 1:06 pm
    Do you think the Magna Carta was flawed?
  20. roadrunner
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    roadrunner - September 12, 2012 10:03 am
    Does PUC's President Knight realize what it is going to cost PUC not only in money but also in reputation if Measure U wins and PUC decides to sue? Perhaps she doesn't care.
    Circulating in Angwin is the President's letter to some highly-respected members of the Angwin Adventist community in which she states the Ecovillage plan originally had 1157 homes proposed. That number again - 1157. If groups such as Save Rural Angwin hadn't stood against the Ecovillage, Angwin would now be on its way to a size approaching Calistoga, and Napa County Taxpayers would be responsible for paying for services: fire, police, roads etc. an unincorporated city needs.
    It is a crying shame that PUC has an administration so lacking in Adventist values. Here is a school just proclaimed by Newsweek magazine as the most beautiful college in America being ruined by the people who should be protecting it. Shame !
  21. giraffe
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    giraffe - September 12, 2012 1:49 pm
    Should PUC change a rural community into an urban center in order to raise money for its endowment?
    Should PUC saddle Napa County with the obligation of providing the services and infrastructure a city requires?
    PUC is threatening to sue if measure U wins.
    It seems when one adds things up, PUC is entirely about PUC, ignoring its neighbors and burdening Napa County taxpayers.

  22. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - September 16, 2012 8:04 am
    Should PUC tell the truth?

    The community has been lied too!

  23. Lucy White
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    Lucy White - September 26, 2012 12:13 pm
    Angwin needs to realize that “Conservation” is “Corruption of Government” – they are using words to pull the heartstrings of good people, while they are plotting to take you lands. The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area is continually expanding, since May, 1,300 acres have been added, ALL private lands…- Agwin is being set up to be added to the “Conservation Area” - The NCA designation will allow the feds to “acquire” the inholding with taxpayer funds… it is like a bulldozer in the rainforest taking what is precious to people and replacing it with total government control.
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